I knew I had to figure out the marketing piece if I hoped to be a successful freelancer, but networking for introverts and self-promotion isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do.
Before throwing myself into a crowd of people to drum up business, I thought I’d take a “class” at a local community college on networking to learn how it’s done.
There was just one problem.
The “class” turned out to be a roomful of professionals who all seemed to know each other… well. When I walked in, my mind started spinning and my heart pounding. “If I could just find a seat…”
Finally I did, and that’s when the director looked straight at me: “Stand up and tell us who you are and what your business is…”
“Who, me?” I thought. Cue the sweaty palms, queasy stomach, noodle legs, hands trembling with fear, and an intense desire to pull a bag over my head.
If you’re a fellow introvert and freelance writer, what would you do? Here’s what happened next:
Every week, I hear from people who ask me how to become a freelance writer.
You hate your job, or you can’t work outside the home, or you want to be home with your kids…the reasons vary. But the glamorous reputation of freelancing has caught your eye. Being your own boss sure sounds great!
Everyone wants to know how this gig works — how to stay home and pay your bills with your writing.
Aspiring freelancers usually have strong writing skills. But there are other strengths you may lack that could doom your chances.
What does it take to be a successful freelance writer? Is this career for you?
Here’s my unvarnished, let’s-get-real list of key traits you’ll need:
The Internet has made some things about building a freelance career as a writer a lot easier.
You can investigate what a magazine has recently written, for instance. Or find an editor on LinkedIn.
But in other ways, our Information Age has caused problems for writers.
I know because I keep hearing comments from new freelance writers like this:
“There’s so much to know and the world of freelance writing is rapidly changing. I feel so behind and don’t know how I’ll ever catch up. Can you help?”
Does that sound anything like the voice inside your head?
Wondering if can really jump in and build a freelance career as a writer, even though you don’t know everything right now?
I do have a tip on that.
Are you one of those freelancers in the writer’s dojo who secretly thinks you’re too weak at this writing thing to earn a living?
Maybe you’re scared you’ll screw up, suck at getting clients, fail to deliver high-quality work, and basically punch yourself in the face.
Or maybe you’re overwhelmed because you’re trying to learn pro-writer combos and strikes before you’ve learned the basics.
I know what it’s like to be one of the white-belt freelancers on the mat staring down opponents like Fear, Self-Doubt, Procrastination, and Lack of Direction.
It’s scary. It’s frustrating. And if you don’t do something about it, those bad guys from the Dojo of Doom and Failure will take you down.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. After some training, practice, and a few blows to the head, I learned five moves freelancers can use to beat fear and doubt.
Years ago, when I was finding it hard to get out of bed, much less write, I started making a daily gratitude list. To celebrate Thanksgiving, I’d like to collaborate with you today and make a writer’s ultimate gratitude list. You game?
If you haven’t done this before, writing a gratitude list is a great way to start the day, or to end it. Our human brains are programmed to focus on the negative. We needed to remember where the saber-toothed tigers were, so we’d avoid that valley.
In our modern lives full of negative news headlines and fears for the future, dwelling on the bad stuff can really sap your writing creativity. Focusing on the positive is a powerful tool to remind us of the simple joys of being alive.
Ready to join in?
If you’re feeling stuck, thinking, “Maybe I’ll screw this up and ruin my writing career,” read this post from a couple of years ago. Face your fears, learn from your mistakes, and keep going. –Carol
When I asked readers recently what’s holding you back from breaking in and earning big as a freelance writer, I got many different answers. But one I heard a lot:
Melissa: “I am terrified. Of succeeding, of failing, of just simply doing!”
Kifayat: “Fear of getting things wrong and also selling myself short.”
Cindy: “I fear looking like a fool.”
DeAnn: “I just don’t want to start out on the wrong foot and jeopardize my career before it really gets going.”
Jane: “The idea of succeeding (or even testing myself) too quickly just scares the living hell out of me. Without faithful cheerleaders freelancing success is just too scary (because the bigger success the bigger the failure that might follow).”
To sum up: Many of you are afraid of doing something so awful that it will ruin your freelance writing career.
So today, we will confront these fears. I’m going to tell you something shattering: